Justin Timberlake’s ballot selfie highlights mixed laws

Now even Justin Timberlake has been forced to deal with the question of whether a ballot selfie is legal.

Timberlake flew from California to Tennessee to vote early this week, but his posting of an image of himself at the voting booth on Instagram on Monday drew questions about whether he was breaking the law.

A Tennessee law that took effect earlier this year bars voters from taking photographs or video while they’re inside a polling location.

While secrecy in the voting booth has become a thing of the past for those ready to share their views and daily lives on social media, laws nationwide are mixed on whether voters are allowed to take pictures of themselves voting and their ballots.

Federal courts have struck down bans in New Hampshire and Indiana, and on Monday, a judge in Michigan blocked enforcement of a ban on ballot selfies, saying it violates free speech.

Tennessee Secretary of State spokesman Adam Ghassemi said officials are “thrilled Justin can’t stop the feeling” but reminded voters to use their phones inside polling locations only to help them vote.

Timberlake lives in California, but grew up in the Memphis area and owns property near Nashville.

STATES WHERE BALLOT SELFIES ARE ALLOWED

CONNECTICUT: No law bans ballot selfies, according to Patrick Gallahue, a spokesman for Secretary of State Denise Merrill. But election moderators have discretion to prohibit activity “that threatens the orderly process of voting or the privacy of another voter’s ballot.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston last month upheld a decision that a ban was unconstitutional, saying it suppresses a large swath of political speech and there was no evidence to support the state’s concerns.

VERMONT: No rules regarding photos in polling places. Clerks are encouraged to adopt specific rules for their polling places to maintain order, according to Jim Condos, a spokesman for the secretary of state.

RHODE ISLAND: The Board of Elections adopted new rules in time for November’s election that allow for selfie-taking inside polling places. The updated regulations allow voters to take photos as long as they don’t show another person’s ballot.

MAINE: The secretary of state discourages ballot selfies because there’s a ban on making unauthorized ballot copies, but there’s no law against voters posting photos of their marked ballot.

STATES WHERE BALLOT SELFIES ARE ILLEGAL

MASSACHUSETTS: Taking a photo of a completed ballot in a polling location is banned in Massachusetts. But the state’s top election official, Secretary William Galvin, says there’s little the state can do to prevent it. Photos of mailed ballots are also banned.

 

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